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2009 | 69 | 2 | 168-176

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Reduction of the number of new cells reaching olfactory bulbs impairs olfactory perception in the adult opossum

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In adult mammals cells generated in the subventricular zone (SVZ) migrate to olfactory bulbs (OB). Functional significance of this continuous neurogenesis is not clear. We injected opossums (Monodelphis domestica) for seven consecutive days with a 5HT1A agonist (8-OH-DPAT or buspirone), or its antagonist WAY100635. One hour after each of these injections bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU), a marker of dividing cells was also injected. Two months later, when newly generated neurons settled in the OB and matured the ability of these opossums to detect hidden food by olfactory cues was tested. Afterwards, numbers of BrdU-labeled cell nuclei in their OB were counted and a phenotype of labeled cells established. In all groups investigated the majority of new cells differentiated into neurons (55-76%) and a lower proportion into astroglia (6-12%). Numbers of BrdU-labeled cells differed depending on the applied treatment: both agonists of the 5HT1A receptor increased these numbers, while its antagonist decreased them. The increased number of new OB interneurons did not change the time required for finding all three food items and therefore did not improve the opossums' performance in this test of the olfactory perception. However, opossums that had the reduced number of new generated OB cells searched longer for each food item and in consequence took three times longer to find all three crickets, than did opossums from other groups. In conclusion, lower numbers of new neurons in the opossums OB correlated with their worse behavioral performance in a test based on olfactory perception.




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Rouzanna Djavadian, Department of Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Warsaw, Poland


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